The Infinite Jest Deathmarch, Stage 6

“I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron’s point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it. The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God.”
— Teresa of Avila

“The punter never made her feel quite so taken care of, never made her feel about to be entered by something that didn’t know she was there and yet was all about making her feel good anyway, coming in. Entertainment is blind.”
— David Foster Wallace

Begin: Page 258 (“White halogen off the green of the composite surface, the light out on the indoor courts…”)
End: Page 298 (“Of particular interest are the eyes.”)

Start Date: 11/5/10
Finish Date: 11/11/10

Footnote Profile: 15 notes, including one 2.5-pager (#90)

Introducing a new feature this week: the Footnote Profile, a preview of the number and length of notes in the upcoming stage to help us get mentally prepared. This week’s is moderate to annoying, with a bunch of shorter ones and one real humdinger. In recognition of this, along with a general feeling of mercy and benevolence brought on by balmy weather and other euphoriating factors, this week’s page count is short.

I’m impressed by the fortitude of the remaining Marchers and feel like we turned a corner this week where it actually feels possible we’re going to conquer this thing. I admit I was having my doubts there for a minute but at the moment I feel…in the immortal words of HST…just sick enough to be totally confident.

11 Responses to “The Infinite Jest Deathmarch, Stage 6”

  1. JES Says:

    Finding it a bit easier every week to hit my groove with this book. Interesting characters becoming more developed this week, esp. Avril and Orin. My favorite quote “almost nothing important that ever happens to you happens because you engineer it.” Hmmm . . .

  2. bill Says:

    Funniest thing I’ve read in this book so far:

    “Then during the post-meet mixer and dance Pemulis’ defaulted opponent ate from the hors d’oeuvres table without using utensils or at one point even hands, did a disco number when there wasn’t any music going, and was finally heard telling the Port Washington Headmaster’s wife that he’d always wanted to do her from behind.”

    He’s a bad boy, Pemulis.

    Also, heads up for those who, like me, are reading the old-fashioned paper book and sometimes travel w/o dictionary: “strabismic” refers to strabismus, which is “A visual defect in which one eye cannot focus with the other on an object because of imbalance of the eye muscles.” Wallace could just as easily have said “squinty-eyed,” but that would not be his style.

  3. bobdee Says:

    This was a great section of the book. The fairy tale story of Orin’s failure at football, being miraculously turned around because he did not think he could throw the ball far enough – so he kicked it instead, was almost believable, and a great yarn. His subsequent success was predictable but I loved it all the same. Sometimes, one has trouble recognizing their real talent, and discovers it accidentally. Also, it was neat that this was all inspired by the PGOAT – what a cleaver name for a real beauty. It was amusing that her social life was stunted by being too beautiful.

  4. Debra Says:

    “so then at forty-six years of age I came here to learn to live by cliches,’ … to turn my will and life over to the care of cliches. One day at a time,. Easy does it. First things first. Courage is fear that has said its prayers. Ask for help. Thy will not mine be done. It works if you work it. Grow or go. Keep coming back.”

    “…and why do prostitutes when they get straight always try and get so prim? It’s like long-repressed librarian-ambitions come flooding out”

    I look at our prim librarians differently now.

  5. Computilo Says:

    I’m still lagging behind but given the puny march replies, I must not be alone. I have decided that Dfw is almost as quotable as Shakespeare and some good book or chapter titles for books I might write someday are lurking within. Like “The Prim Librarian.” or is that a reality show?

  6. Other Dan Says:

    i’m officially behind however my ketchup day is tonight. hopefully much happiness will be had. don’t count me out yet.

  7. Matt Says:

    The first week that I finished more than 24 hours in advance and I forgot to make a punctual comment. D’oh!

    While I find them interesting and thought-provoking, I find myself getting bogged down in the Ennet House scenes. I’m only able to digest about five pages or so of those at a time.

    On the other hand, I’m totally engrossed by anything to do with ETA and devour those sections.

  8. Molly Says:

    Nice contrasts in Geoffrey Day and Don Gately. The dialog throughout is the best part, to me.

  9. Del Says:

    I think this is my first week in which I read the entire assignment by the deadline! Yay! (Oops, I discover just now that the deadline for finishing each section is Thursday not Friday) Here are my scribbles, mostly just continuing to quote words & passages that strike me one way or the other. Probably the least exciting reading assignment thus far – especially the football part.

    some words that gave me pause (i.e., I actually stopped to attempt to look up) ‘quantumish’ ‘erumpent’’Sedulously’’nictitated’ ‘mokus’ ‘Spont-Dissem’ ‘ominously nystagmic’ ‘deafflatusized’ ‘kohl’ ‘lordotic’ ‘hiati’ ‘felo de se’ ‘strabismic’ : (having improperly aligned eyes) ‘ascapartic’ ‘adit’

    ‘Just don’t think anything thoracic.’ ‘with a kind of Eskimoid structure to it’ ‘…and he warms up with crazy spins, moony top off a western forehand and weird inside-out shit off a one-hand back, his knees dipping oddly whenever he makes contact and his follow-through full of the dancerly flourishes that characterize a case of nerves.’ ‘a grunter with a moody profile and the storky look of recent puberty’ ‘a whole jargony argot’ ‘His detox at Dimock’ ‘too hilariously egregulous’ (the latter one of the author’s perfect ‘non-words’, ‘made-up words’ or ‘messed up words’ – another in ‘one iona of shit’ ‘in Morris Code’ ‘XSive Cruetly’) ‘Do not ask not whether it’s not insane. Simply open wide for the spoon.’ ‘little swaggery guys who always queer a square beef’ ‘Day purses his lips, leg joggling. Gately hangs his head over the arm of the sofa and regards Lenz upside-down.’ ‘the tumescence of O.N.A.N.ism’ ‘Recall how mediocrity is contextual.’

    whoa!: ‘He’s one of those people who don’t need much, much less much more.’ & ‘AA’s response to a question about its axioms, then, is to invoke an axiom about the inadvisablility of all such questions.’

    MGM: The Militant Grammarians of Massachusetts. ‘turn the lemon-wedge of risen sun into plumed rainbows of refraction’ ‘He’d been smitten before, but not decapitated.’ a lot of attention gets paid to Madame Psychosis’s (evolving) accent. Hm – ‘It took three hearing for him to figure out that her name wasn’t Joel.’ ‘a strabismic and faggy-sweatered but basically decent guy who also happened to be heir to the Nickerson Farms Meat Facsmile fortune’

    there seems to be a few oft-repeated words per section or area of the book. looks like we’re in the ‘kibitz’ section today. or ‘dicky’/‘dicklessness’ [& later] ‘strabismic’ & ‘carrot’. the acronym ATHSCME thrice in one sentence; same sentence that has a ‘nipply nacelle’.

    the tongue-twisting humor in Schtitt vs. Schacht: ‘Schtitt’d say spiritual instead of mental, but as far as Schacht can see it’s the same thing. As Schacht sees it, Schtitt’s philosophical stance is…’

    I’m still mulling the author’s dizzyingly un-P.C. skew on various subjects, but particularly anything gay. He seems too straight/male-centric for things like footnote 91 (about Gately only knowing the terms ‘pillow-biter’ and ‘the f-term’ for male homosexuals) to not come out as too crass or maybe even a bit blind (which strikes me as near impossible given his stunningly spot-on, narrative & explication, the misspelled words, the reams of sheer paragraph-poetry, the amazing insight into addiction, suicide, tennis, language). Not sure what I’m saying here, just following along and awaiting something maybe hopefully didactic. Or maybe I’m too sensitive? But the writing invokes such sensitivity, I think. later, ‘those faggy white tennis sweaters’ – one basic related question is from whose point of view is each chapter or segment or paragraph transpiring?

    I’m totally loving the idea of ‘Interdependence Day’. C.U.S.P. (Clean United States Party) – President Gentle’s ‘pro-hygiene political platform.’

  10. Jeff Says:

    A late entry, apologies. Still loving the book but still find it mentally taxing to go more than 10 pages at a time. I can’t think of another book that has done this to me, where I enjoy it sentence-by-sentence and yet still find it a “slog”.

    This section seemed one of the “easiest” so far, if for no other reason than there wasn’t a lot of jumping around, but instead he just went for deep dives into the minds of a few characters at one specific point of time, which at least spared us the mental gymnastics of having to figure out where and when we were.

    Bill pointed out the funniest thing he’s read in the book so far. This was mine:
    “Ohio State flew him out to Columbus for such a weekend of “prospective orientation” that when Orin got back he had to stay in bed for three days drinking Alka-Seltzer with an ice-pack to his groin.”

    Have we talked about the use of “like” in this book? It, like, throws me for a loop every time. Is it Wallace’s “like”? Who is speaking this way? Is there another narrator we don’t know about? It, like, keeps totally bugging me.

  11. Matt Says:

    @Jeff I’ve noticed the use of “like” as well and haven’t been able to pin it down. I’m suspicious that it’s a young narrator closer to the story rather than DFW. Whenever he uses it an image of Tommy Chong flashes into my head.

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